Not so Offbeat Bites Chicago

Exploring the unexplored Chicago flavors.

Cyborg Franky

11/2/20235 min read

Nestled along the picturesque shores of Lake Michigan, Chicago is a dreamy United States city renowned for its vibrant cultural tapestry. As a major metropolitan hub, it's a melting pot of diverse cultures and ethnicities, offering an extensive array of culinary delights. During my visit, accompanied by friends, we savored the city's dynamic food scene over a span of a few days. Our gastronomic adventure led us to savor a range of flavors, from Portuguese cuisine to the Chicago's very own. Chicago's multifaceted food culture never failed to impress, making our journey along the lake's coastline truly unforgettable.

The world renowned Afro-portuguese group of restaurant Nando’s was the first place I visited. Picture a plate adorned with a perfectly charred quarter chicken, oozing with peri-peri goodness – a testament to Nando's expertise in flame-grilling. Each bite is a symphony of smokiness and spice, setting the stage for the feast ahead.

Moving on to the crispy delights of Nando's—chicken wings that redefine finger-licking goodness. Marinated to perfection, these wings balance the spicy kick with a crispy texture that's nothing short of extraordinary.

Accompanying the star dishes are sides that complete the peri-peri symphony. Portuguese rice, infused with aromatic herbs and spices, is a flavor-packed companion to the main dish. Paired with Nando's signature fries—golden, crispy, and seasoned just right—these sides create a delightful medley of flavors.

Let's talk sauces. Nando's hot sauce is perfect for those seeking a flavorful kick. Tangy and spicy, it enhances the already incredible flavors. Feeling bold? Try the extra hot sauce—an intense, fiery experience that leaves a lasting, spicy impression. Warning: it's not for the faint of heart!

In summary, Nando's in Chicago isn't just a restaurant; it's a flavorful adventure waiting to be explored. With its bold peri-peri flavors, expertly grilled chicken, and a lineup of sides and sauces that cater to every palate, Nando's stands out as a must-visit for those seeking a unique and memorable dining experience.

Chicago's Chinatown is more than just a neighborhood; it's a bustling cultural enclave where the vibrant sights, sounds, and, most importantly, flavors of Asia come to life. Walking through its streets, you're greeted by colorful storefronts adorned with intricate signage, the fragrant aromas of spices and herbs wafting through the air, and the melodic chatter of locals and visitors alike.

Nestled within this vibrant community is Shinya Ramen House, a hidden gem that beckons with the promise of authentic Asian comfort food, particularly its renowned midnight ramen. As I stepped into the cozy diner, I was enveloped by the welcoming ambiance—a harmonious blend of traditional Asian decor and modern urban chic.

My choice, the Sapporo Spicy Miso Ramen, was a testament to the diverse culinary influences found in Chinatown. The first sip of the steaming broth revealed layers of flavor that danced on my palate—a symphony of umami-rich pork broth, subtly spiced miso, and a hint of fiery chili oil. Each ingredient, meticulously curated and expertly balanced, added its own unique essence to the dish.

The seasoned egg, with its velvety yolk and delicate seasoning, provided a luscious contrast to the hearty broth. Grilled pork added a smoky depth, while the crisp corn, tender bean sprouts, and earthy bamboo shoots contributed a textural harmony. The fish cake added a touch of sweetness, while the black wood ear mushrooms lent an earthy undertone. Topped with fragrant green onions and crispy fried garlic, every element came together in perfect harmony, creating a culinary masterpiece that transcended mere sustenance.

Now that I’m done with ramen, I thought I’ll try some Chicago classic dishes. Chicago has another name, deep dish pizza. And there is no other place to try it out other than Giordano’s. Indulging in a slice of deep-dish pizza at Giordano's is more than just a meal—it's a culinary experience that embodies the spirit of Chicago's iconic food scene. Nestled in the heart of the Windy City, Giordano's has been delighting locals and visitors alike with its legendary stuffed crust pies for decades.
Walking into Giordano's, you're immediately greeted by the mouthwatering aroma of freshly baked pizza dough mingling with bubbling cheese and tangy tomato sauce. The cozy yet bustling atmosphere is infused with the energy of hungry diners eagerly awaiting their piping hot pies.

As you settle into your booth, anticipation builds with each passing moment. Finally, the moment of truth arrives as your server sets down a golden-brown masterpiece before you—the signature deep-dish pizza from Giordano's.

With its towering layers of buttery crust, gooey mozzarella cheese, and savory toppings, every bite is a symphony of flavors and textures. The first bite yields a satisfying crunch as you sink your teeth into the crisp outer crust, giving way to a molten center of melted cheese and savory sauce.

But perhaps the true star of the show is the stuffed crust—a decadent layer of dough enveloping the cheesy filling like a warm embrace. With each bite, you're treated to a delightful explosion of cheesy goodness that is as comforting as it is indulgent. To be brutally honest with you all, Deep-dish pizza is not for me and I feel it's overrated but there are millions who love it so you should try it yourself.

There's something undeniably indulgent about sinking your spoon into a decadent chocolate brownie sundae at Ghirardelli Chicago. Tucked away in the bustling streets of the Windy City, this iconic dessert destination is a haven for chocolate lovers seeking a sweet escape.

As you step inside Ghirardelli's, you're greeted by the rich aroma of freshly baked brownies mingling with the intoxicating scent of melted chocolate. The cozy yet vibrant atmosphere is alive with the buzz of eager diners, their anticipation palpable as they await their chocolatey delights. But it's the chocolate brownie sundae that truly steals the show. Presented with flair and finesse, each element is carefully crafted to perfection, promising a symphony of flavors and textures with every spoonful.

At its heart lies a fudgy brownie, warm and gooey from the oven, its rich chocolatey goodness oozing with every bite. Nestled atop the brownie is a generous scoop of velvety smooth vanilla ice cream, its creamy sweetness the perfect complement to the dense richness of the brownie.

But the pièce de résistance is the cascade of Ghirardelli's signature chocolate sauce, drizzled lovingly over the sundae like liquid gold. With its deep, intense flavor and luxurious silkiness, it elevates each bite to new heights of decadence, leaving you craving more with every mouthful.

As you savor each spoonful, you can't help but lose yourself in the sheer indulgence of it all. The combination of warm brownie, cold ice cream, and luscious chocolate sauce is nothing short of sublime—a symphony of flavors that dances on your palate and leaves you longing for just one more bite.

By the time this post is out, I would have made many visits to Chicago and I plan on having multiple articles on Chicago food scenes. This blog is just scratching at the surface. So stay tuned for more.